The National Association of Black Journalists should not go back to the Unity coalition “at this time,” a commission appointed by NABJ President Gregory H. Lee Jr. recommended Tuesday, and Juan Gonzalez of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, a Unity founder, told Journal-isms that the commission made the right decision.
“There comes a time when you must admit, even those of us who labored for years to create and preserve this unique alliance of journalists of color, that things have radically changed, that UNITY has lost its way, Gonzalez said in a statement.
Keith Reed, the NABJ treasurer who led the commission, voiced the same sentiment in an interview at the NABJ convention, which opened officially Wednesday in New Orleans.
After NABJ left the Unity coalition last year over financial and governance issues, leaving behind the national associations of Hispanic, Asian American and Native American journalists, the remaining Unity partners invited the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association to join and changed the name from “Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc.” to “Unity Journalists.”
Admission of NLGJA “was not the basis of our decision,” Reed said. “Unity had already begun to move away from its roots.”
The coalition began as a vehicle for “co-located conventions” of the partner associations, Reed said. “What it was doing was raising a lot of money,” moving toward merging organizations and “in many instances competing with one another for revenue.”
Unity was never intended to be an organization with an executive director and a full-time staff, he said.
Reed said the commission’s recommendation did not require NABJ board action and applied only to what the thinking is “right now.” Other members of the commission — Rochelle Riley, Zuri Berry, Herbert Sample, Joe Davidson and Sidmel Estes — had their own reasons for their decisions, he said.